History of the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft: By the numbers
Apr 23, 2019, 7:00 AM
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
On Thursday, the Arizona Cardinals will officially be on the clock with the first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
This is a pretty rare scenario for the Cardinals, as this is their first time picking No. 1 overall since all the way back in 1958, when they were still based out of Chicago.
The decision with the top pick will likely be one of the most important decisions that the Cardinals have made in a long time, so it might be worthwhile to look back at the underlying figures behind the top pick.
From Jay Berwanger in 1936 to Baker Mayfield in 2018, here is the history behind the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, by the numbers:
The Cardinals have been widely rumored to be interested in Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the top pick this year, which would continue a very notable trend in draft history. Quarterbacks have been taken with the first pick 35 times since the draft’s inception, which is the most at a single position by a good amount.
A quarterback going No. 1 overall seems like a foregone conclusion nowadays, as 15 of the last 21 top picks have been signal callers. It hasn’t always been like this, however, as the first eight drafts all featured non-quarterbacks with the top pick.
In fact, the first-ever draft in 1936 didn’t have a single quarterback taken in 81 picks. This is a far cry from last year, where four quarterbacks were taken in the top-10 alone.
The draft has seen a pretty diverse group of colleges featured at the top pick, as players from 50 different schools have been taken No. 1 overall.
Notre Dame and USC are tied for the most No. 1 picks in history with five, but the Fighting Irish haven’t had one since 1972.
Mayfield’s selection last year gave Oklahoma four, so if the Cardinals do indeed take Murray, the Sooners would move into a tie for first.
When the Cardinals make their pick on Thursday, it will be the fifth time they have done so in franchise history, and the first since moving to Arizona in 1988.
This is not the most in NFL history, though, as the Colts and Rams both share that honor with seven apiece.
The Colts’ most recent No. 1 pick came in 2012 when they chose Andrew Luck out of Stanford, and the Rams last selected there in 2016 when they traded up to take Jared Goff out of Cal.
The occasional bust does occur, but in the history of the draft, being selected with the first pick has been a pretty good indicator of success.
Since the Pro Bowl was established for a brief four-year period in 1939 and then re-established for good in 1951, 53 of the 84 No. 1 picks that were eligible for the game were selected, which is good for a 63% clip.
In recent times, being the first pick has almost been an express invitation to the Pro Bowl in the future, as 14 of the 19 No. 1 picks since 2000 have made at least one Pro Bowl in their career. This number could potentially grow as well. Mayfield flashed Pro Bowl potential during his rookie season despite not making it in.
In certain cases, the teams picking No. 1 overall have gotten even more than they bargained for with their selection.
Nine players drafted in the top spot have later gone on to win the MVP award or the AFL Player of the Year award, with the most recent of which being Cam Newton back in 2016.
Other players to accomplish this feat include legends such as Peyton Manning, John Elway, Terry Bradshaw and Joe Namath.
The No. 1 pick has produced a total of 15 Hall of Famers in its existence, which is the most by any singular pick in the history of the draft.
The first top pick to be inducted into the Hall of Fame was Bill Dudley, who was drafted in 1942 and later enshrined in 1966. The most recent example is former Rams offensive lineman Orlando Pace, who was inducted in 2016.
This number will more than likely not hold for long, though, as Manning looks to be a lock for the Hall of Fame when eligible in a few years.